Norwalk teen, former councilman taking on Duff, Morris

Israel Navarro, left; Warren Peña, right.

Correction 3:42 a.m. Feb. 15: Fix Men’s Wearhouse spelling.

NORWALK, Conn. – Two veteran Democratic Norwalk legislators appear to have a fight on their hands for re-election – two challengers say the quality of their representation has not been good and they need to be replaced.

Former Norwalk Common Councilman Warren Peña says he is going to run to represent the 140th Assembly District, the seat currently held by the Rev. Bruce Morris. Israel Navarro, a 19-year-old newcomer with presidential aspirations, says he wants the seat held by state Sen. Bob Duff, which includes part of Darien.

Peña had nothing good to say about Morris, citing his “failed leadership” in trying to bring Norwalk Public Schools more funding through the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) formula, his “failed leadership” in regards to Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) and “failed leadership all across the board.”

“This is not a state rep who represents the needs of his constituency,” Peña said.

Morris did not return a request for comment.

Navarro, a 2012 Brien McMahon High School graduate, cited “lack of leadership.”

“I believe it is time to change in the way we as the city see progress,” he said. “I am willing to make progress, I am also willing to bring new change and inspire others.”

“What’s great about America is that everyone has the chance to run for office and express their views,” he said.

Both challengers would be involved in a primary. Navarro would need to get six delegates to vote for him in a state-wide convention, a source close to the Democratic Party said. The source said Navarro is basically a shoe-in to get the votes he needs to force a primary with Duff.

The 140th District house seat candidacy will be decided in a Democratic caucus in Norwalk because the district lies solely within the city, the source said. If the caucus decides on Morris, Peña would need to collect names on a petition to primary.

There is nothing on the state’s website to indicate Peña and Navarro are running. They say they have mailed the paperwork to the state.

Peña said he will begin fundraising this weekend.

“I feel I can represent the constituents of the district in a much better way, in a much more professional way. I think that I can be a better representative for all the diverse cultures that exist in that area,” Peña said.

It’s a majority Latino district, Peña said.

“There’s been a huge demographic shift,” Peña said. “He’s been in that office for eight out of the (past) 10 years and yet he has not changed with the times. He is complacent. He works solely with a select few of what I would like to call tenured politicians. Those tenured politicians have a narrow focus. That narrow focus does not meet the needs of the overall community and constituency in the 140th.”

Or, more succinctly, “There is nothing that Mr. Morris has done out there to help the Latino community at all,” Peña said.

There is nothing on the state’s website to indicate that Morris is going to run for re-election.

“I believe he’s going to run again,” Peña said. “He’s got eight years. You need 10 years to get a pension and I am sure he is worried about his pension first and foremost and not actually representing his constituency. … I expect to get support from all diverse cultures and all people within that community, or within that district.”

Navarro doesn’t think his lack of experience should be a problem.

“I would not consider age as a factor as part of this election. We have to see who is best going to represent you and your interests,” he said. “Because if we are going to go off of age then just off the bat it’s not going to be a fair election or primary at all. Sometimes age truly has no value to what a person can accomplish.”

He was not involved in student government at McMahon but was in the ROTC there. He said plans to go to college, works part time at Men’s Wearhouse and is “a fulltime entrepreneur.”

“I help people in the area of finance,” he said.

You can see Navarro at the 23:39 mark of the video of Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, which is posted on the city’s website. Navarro was there in support of workers who have been laid off from their jobs with Premier Maintenance, who had been cleaning the Maritime Aquarium for years.

Navarro told the council that he might be forced to take action to the defend the rights of Latino workers.

“’Take action” (means) find a way for them to get their jobs back and make sure their kids don’t suffer or anything,” he said Thursday.

His political aspirations go way back. He hopes to run for president someday,

“As everyone told me, (I have been political) since I have been a little kid. They always said I was very active, had a very strong voice. They always say when I run for president they will gladly vote for me,” he said.

“I am extremely excited for Israel,” Peña said. “I think it is time that we start rising up within the Hispanic ranks and the community, in particular some of the young folks that would like to throw their hat in the ring for these particular roles or positions. I am excited. I think he is going to bring a new energy to the entire election cycle in this coming year. “

Peña said he helped recruit Navarro.

“I think he has the will, he has the desire and he’s ready to roll up his sleeves,” he said. “He is a man that is born and raised in this town. He understands that there are a lot of needs citywide and they’re not being met.”


26 responses to “Norwalk teen, former councilman taking on Duff, Morris”

  1. YankeeClipper

    Good luck! The current representatives are not standing up for Norwalk in Hartford and need to go. Thanks Warren and Israel.

  2. Methinks no

    He hasn’t run for anything before. Is this someone anyone would take seriously? I wouldn’t and I don’t think people in the state house would either.

  3. Independent Voter

    Let’s hope that either of these guys don’t forget those of us in this community who are not Hispanic. Appealing to the base is great to gin up support but as the Tea Party has so spectacularly shown, is no way to govern. Either way, if one of them has a convincing argument that they can bring in more ECS funding, then Morris is toast.

  4. Po Nine

    Rumor has there will be multiple democratic candidates for the 25th senate seat this year. Hartfordites have been swarming seeking options. Bet they all know the traffic and weather patterns..

  5. LongTimeDem

    The nomination in the 25th district takes place in a district convention, with delegates from Norwalk and the part of Darien that is in the district. It is not a state-wide convention.

  6. WOW!

    WOW! The fallout may finally be upon us for the politicians who continue to support the [lack of] leadership at NEON. Pena was the first to bring attention to the corruption and mismanagement at NEON. He made some enemies as a result, but he was proven correct in his assessment. Navarro is a fresh face with a voice of hope. He spoke eloquently in support of the displaced worked at the Maritime Center. Good luck to both of them.

  7. Methinks no

    Wonder if this has anything to do with Bob Duff’s and Bruce Morris’s endorsement of Harry Rilling
    instead of Warren’s choice…twenty -something
    Vinny M.?

  8. EveT

    Was it Navarro’s press release that misspelled the name of his own employer? Both NoN and The Hour spelled it “Warehouse,” which is not the name of the clothing store.

    Can’t speak for The Hour, but this is one time you can shoot the messenger. There was no press release. The mistake belongs to us, and has been fixed.

  9. No on Navarro

    You really think I’d vote for a kid who just came out of high school and his obvious agenda is the Latino Community? SMH

    Although I applaud his efforts, I think he should go to college, obtain his degree first, then go from there.

    Until then, leave it to the professionals.

  10. loveforthecity

    Kudos to Israel & Warren for taking on the challenge. It is nice to see young people want to take action. They will be change agents, from what I can see. These two understand what it is to work with all people from different backgrounds as they are from South Norwalk and embrace diversity. These entrenched politicans need to go as they do nothing but show up to events and photo ops.

    Ohh and Morris, what does he do? He is never seen anywhere, nor do you see him take on any initiative that betters the lives of his district or contituency. What a joke that guy is!

  11. WOW!

    @Methinks no:
    Once the Democratic Party’s mayoral primaries ended, Warren Pena did the right thing and embraced the Party”s candidate for Mayor. He has been a strong supporter of Mayor Rilling. To address your comment, I believe this has more to do with Bob Duff’s and Bruce Morris’ endorsement of NEON’s [lack of] leadership. Their relentless support for NEON’s failed organization is costing the City of Norwalk, its tax payers and it’s low-income community (in need of social services) with tremendous hardship.

  12. Taxpayer Fatigue

    Go Warren!!!!

  13. the donut hole

    Warren, Israel, and Watts.
    These guys will put Moe, Larry, and Curly to shame. Get your popcorn out.

  14. spanner

    Think about it,the safety of our rail the way it runs what does these three reps know?What the Republicans are telling them I doubt if they have a T pass themselves?Dick,Bruce,Bob and Chris all walk into a elevator a few years back at city hall I didn’t know who they were I was surprised they were political rivals by the good ole boys club scent left in the elevator.No punch line the joke was on us all these years.What a sober thought thinking they could be replaced by two guys who want to see our city get something more than a handful of crumbs thrown at us at election time.I wouldn’t be surprised if Darien steps up to the plate with someone they realize as well its time for a change.The crap I get in the mail from these guys is sickening.What rep told us all natural gas is the way to go?Then again maybe when the reopen the Manressa plant gas will be the way to go.Even the blue blood realizes useless is usless.Its a sure bet running for office will take away any time we needed in the Statehouse for help so if anything the mud will fly and the caustic abrasive stone throwing will be ever so present.Bet Andy realizes now he was thrown under the bus ,the rat pack is disolving slowly.There are plenty of us who saw the way the mayor was elected those who felt slighted will have a chance to vote soon enough payback is so sweet isn’t it?What has changed in Norwalk in the last three months?The Grand opening scissors have gotten bigger to match the swelled heads.

  15. Bill

    Duff and his Audi need to go!!! 19 year olds aren’t the answer though.

  16. Bill

    Kid, go to college, learn how to speak eloquently, then run against Duff. You will be laughed at and you won’t win a primary. You are 19 and unprepared to run a clothing store, much less a senate seat. Being Hispanic doesn’t mean you are prepared to represent an entire COMMUNITY

  17. loveforthecity

    Don’t underestimate the abition of a young person. Norwalk just elected a 19 yr to the common council with overwhelming support, crushed the competition. If Israel can raise 15k by May and get the proper amount of delegates needed to force a primary, he is a viable candidate. His age and experience are irrelevant. This is politics, age n experience do not matter. It is all about counting your votes. I can bet ya this kid will knock on more doors and out work his opponent.

  18. WOW!

    @Bill: Give the kid a break. He’s working to pay his own way through college. That’s admirable. He is also articulate in two languages, English and Spanish. With the dramatic demographic change we are experiencing, his bilingual ability is an asset.

  19. No on Navarro

    Navarro’s short time on Channel 12 yesterday was the most painful interview I’ve seen yet in the political arena.

    I’d like to hear him explain what he’s observed that’s been going wrong in Norwalk. He’s 19! Was the playground unfair in elementary school or something?

    Navarro will be pummeled in debates and I can’t wait to sit and watch. The only saving grace is that he’ll have little Pena whispering in his ear with subpar local political issues. Otherwise, this kid wouldn’t know better.




  20. spanner

    I have to agree No on there is that kid about him,but when Duff looked into the camera and said its time for St Vincents to sharpen its pencils when cuts were made that was painful to us who had a loved one saved after cancer hit and St Vs saved her life.My wife their mother their friend we all then realized after all the money pits and special interests we have all paid for,St Vincents took a hit from a politician who has no clue.My list of reasons could go on all night why I would never vote for the three wisemen .Knowing a lot of people in Darien and Norwalk I doubt if these two will be the only ones seeking their seats and if I have to cross isles just to ensure we have someone genuine I will and many will follow on just the ingnorance displayed the last couple of years by actions and lack of in the State house.The city politics played recently by State reps would make most wonder if they know who they work for and why they were elected.Listen to them speak in the Statehouse and wonder what have they learned over the years.Last night the Norwalk fire dept had a fire at Roodner Court and the residential apt complex was called a project by a member of the fire dept sounds like you would agree’ I’m not latino but I did say in the above post it won’t take too long until the mud will fly and the caustic abrasive stone throwing will be ever so present.If this shows us some who backs the reps it shows the rest of us what has to be changed asap.Thanks for the validation I am use to working for it much harder than this.Since the last election the mother I spoke of has two children who now vote wonder if any others in the city have children now ready to change the landscape as well.The bridge,the power plant,NEON,Metro,crime and many other issues have come up recently that has left our State reps on thin ice with everyone in the city and Districts they rep.I’m sure given the chance anyone running will focus on the entire city just like Harry once the gloves comes off.

  21. John Levin

    It’s great to see a young person showing interest in politics and community affairs. But one of his advisors/mentors should stress how important college is in our society, and how important a step it is in a young person’s education and career. If he goes to a good college, it truly can be a life changing event. Also, if he achieved good grades, high test scores, and/or distinguished himself in other ways while in high school, he likely can find scholarship and financial assistance programs that will make a big difference in the cost. Also, most top schools now offer need blind admissions.

    Navarro’s candidacy and ambition offers our community a teachable moment on the importance of a college education, I think.

  22. Dawn

    As I always say. Aim high Norwalk.

    I have nothing against Navarro. He has a right to run. And I applaud anyone who would take on the challenge. I know I couldn’t.

    But anyone who wold vote for him must ask themselves is this the best we can do. It is one thing to say to incumbent politician that it’s time to go (I believe in term limits) but we need the best. If this is the best we can come up with we Are in bad shape.

  23. NorwalkVoter

    Mr. Navarro is a bit ambitious and is getting questionable advice from those who want him to avenge their losses in 2013. Perhaps he should consider running for Council in 2015. A little experience would be good for him and the city. 2014 is beginning to look like another case of infighting within the Democratic party. Not smart.

  24. loveforthecity

    Is this the type of man we want representing us in Hartford? Is this the type of man that we need as the “Human Relations” person at our Board of Ed?
    Mr. Morris – what if you have an issue with one of the kids in the Norwalk school system and they happen to be gay?


  25. loveforthecity

    Mr. Levin, while I agree with you that Mr. Navarro should go to college, should we ask Mr. Morris what his level of education is? Doesn’t he have a high school diploma earning $80,000 of taxpayers dollars in Norwalk? $30,000 from being a State Representative? I would rather have a kid at 19 yrs old than the so called Reverend who lied on his resume like Chiquita did to earn six figures. Do you see a patern here?

  26. John Levin

    Mr. Loveforthe city (why are people afraid to use their names?), I think you are confused. Based on the article, Mr. Navarro is running for the state Senate Seat held by Bob Duff, not the state Representative seat held by Bruce Morris. Regardless, my comment about the importance and value of a college education still applies.

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